Review: Helionox: Deluxe Edition


THIS REVIEW IS FOR AN EARLY P'N'P VERSION OF THE SOLO SCENARIO OF THE GAME. ARTWORK AND GAMEPLAY COULD CHANGE FOR THE FINAL VERSION

Designer: Taran Lewis Kratz
Year: 2017
Publisher: Zeroic Games
Players: 1-4
Game Type: Deck Building

Helionox is a movement based deck building board game where great leaders vie for control in a shattered solar system. One to four players can attempt mastery over competitive, cooperative, and solo modes. Designed to play fast with a quick setup and an imminent ending, Helionox has tension to spare from the first turn to the last. The Deluxe Edition of Helionox brings together the original core set of Helionox: The Last Sunset and incorporates it with a brand new expansion called Mercury Protocol. The Kickstarter will offer a full sized box and game board along with the expansion and can be purchased via Kickstarter with or without the original core set.

SETUP
Setup for Helionox is quite simple. You will layout the map cards, and then divide cards into their corresponding decks. Choose your Architect (character), set up your starting decks, including 2 special faction cards per player, and you are off and running. I'd say max of 10 minutes, depending on how well you put the game away from an earlier play. 

Game Setup.
GAMEPLAY
I won't be able to lend much to explaining multiplayer play, as I only did the solo version, but there are a good deal of similarities from what I understood in the rule book. Your objective is to end the game with the most Influence Points. You will get points based on cards you buy, playing cards in your deck, building embassies on the five locations and clearing the events on the planets.

At the start of your turn a new event will hit somewhere in the system. This will eventually close a location if not taken care of, so you need to decide if you want to solve the event, or do other things. On your turn you can do a multitude of different things. You can change your location, purchase cards, solve a crisis, build an embassy, use your Architect's special ability and more. You have to figure out how you want to gain your Influence Points to win the game, and it can be done in different ways. You could go on a defensive attack and try to clear all events, or you could buy, buy, buy and get the Influence points added up in your deck. It's all up to you. Game play ends when the Event Deck runs out.

Unlike other deck building games, Helionox allows you to place purchased cards on top of your deck, instead of into your discard pile. You also do not have to get rid of your entire hand at the end of your turn. You will draw 5 new cards, look at what you got, then discard back down to five.

Starting deck with 2 special cards.
SOLO PLAY
For solo play you follow the same play as stated above, but now you have to take on the Syndicate. After your turn the game will start to build it's own Influence Points. It will take the Highest Event Card in play, and also take the Highest Market card. So now you have to try and get enough points on your turn to stay ahead of the Syndicate. I found that while playing against the game, I was focusing more on solving events, to keep them out of the games pile. If no Event is in play, they get nothing on their turn, and only the Highest Market card. In the event of a tie, you will choose which one they get. If you want to add some randomness to a tie, keep a D-4 on hand and roll for what they get instead of choosing.

FINAL THOUGHTS
So the game on Kickstarter is the Deluxe Edition. I did not have any of the Mercury Protocol cards to use when I played, so I am only looking at the Core game here. I loved it. Yes I do love Deckbuilding, adding what I feel I need to my hand to defeat the system. Trying to do my best to strategize on how it will play out and what I need to do to win. I love adding a purchased card to the top of my draw pile instead of losing it for a few turns waiting for it to be dealt out. I also really like how if I keep a card(s) after my turn, draw 5, I choose what I want to keep for my next turn. I also like moving through the system, and not just staying at one location, as it plays into the strategy for how to win. The solo play moves at a good pace, and I was probably around the 30 minute mark for each of my 3 games. It actually had the feel of a game like Villages of Valeria, as I was always planning ahead to try and get the most points on a turn. I will be backing this one for sure.

SCORE
4.0 out of 5 Solo's

PROS
* Good twist on Deckbuilding
* Good strategy
* Good replay value
* Great artwork

CONS
* Probably needs more cards overall (expansions included in Deluxe Ed. may cover that)
* Would like to see Event card switched to landscape layout, to match how they fall onto the player mat. 


Game Soundtrack Sponsored by Metal Blade Records: 
Byzantine - The Cicada Tree
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